## Working With Weird Wood: Preface

A few years ago, Nancy took a photograph of her junior-high-school best friend JoAnne’s father on a tractor at his northern-Florida homestead and gave it to JoAnne. After he died, JoAnne brought the picture back, along with some of the old fence pickets from the property, and asked if we could use them to frame the picture. After a lot of research, planning, and experimentation, this is what we came up with:

The pickets were thin, dilapidated, warped, and dirty. The few articles I did find were about “barn wood” which, although it had a slightly distressed surface, was still thick and sound with straight, flat, parallel and perpendicular sides – none of which applied here. The articles were not all that helpful and not all that well written. I thought this project could be an opportunity to learn something new, and to share it with you. I hope I took enough notes and pictures to show you exactly how this frame was made. At least that’s the plan.

### But First . . .

From math class, you may remember that one problem-solving strategy is to solve a simpler problem first and then use that answer to help solve the harder problem.  With that in mind, I have an idea to write a series of short articles on working with weird wood to make frames, so that I can draw on that information in the final article about this project.  The first article will be about working with pieces of moulding of different widths in the same frame.  Then I see a discussion of moulding where the inside and outside edges are not parallel.  Maybe then we’ll work with wood with a wavy inside edge.  Following that may be a discussion about what to do when your moulding is curved (but with uniform width).  But even before the first article, I may have to give a short post about matting techniques.  My hope is that by doing all of this it will expand your view of what’s possible and it will stimulate those creative juices of yours.  These articles will probably not be consecutive blog posts; another art festival season has just begun and other things will invariably come up as I am writing these pieces.  So please be patient and stay tuned.  Thank you!

## How We Digitally Stretch Our Gallery Wrap Edges Before Printing

As we discussed on the Services page of our website, we digitally “stretch” our image before wrapping it around the edge of our gallery-wrapped canvas images. Here’s how we do that:

Our gallery wraps are either 3/4” thick or 11/2“. On the thin ones, I usually take the 1/4” strip along the edges and stretch it to 1″, thus having an extra 1/4” to wrap around to the back side to cover for variations in the printing and stretching processes. On the larger ones, I take 1/2” and stretch it to 2″ (thus leaving 1/2” on the back). I wouldn’t stretch the image more than four times its original size, but you could go less. To do that, you would effectively be taking a wider margin to wrap around the side.

As an example, if I want a 12” x 18” image stretched around a 11/2” frame, I would crop the image to 13” x 19”. Then, after putting guides 1/2” in from each edge and another guide right on each edge, I would increase the canvas size 3” in both dimensions to get 16” x 22” with the image centered.

1. Click Image ⇨ Canvas Size…
2. Put a check in the Relative Box
3. Make Width and Height 3 Inches
4. Make sure Anchor dot is in center of the grid
5. Hit OK

I would then use a scale transform to digitally stretch the outermost 1/2” to 2” wide, filling the canvas.

1. Make sure Snap is checked in the View Menu
2. Use Rectangular Marquee tool to select the 1/2” strip between the guides along one of the edges
3. Click Edit ⇨ Transform ⇨ Scale
4. Place the mouse cursor over the little square in the middle of the outer edge of the selected area and drag to the edge of the canvas
5. Hit the check mark to finish the transform
6. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 with the 1/2” strips along the other three edges

(Actually, I first do the four corner squares separately, but since only a small bit along the edge of those squares has any chance of being seen, you could include them in either the horizontal or vertical strips (or even both)).

Then I add a blank (transparent) edge around the image representing the canvas I need for stretching the canvas around the frame by increasing the canvas size by double the required margins in both dimensions, the same way we did above. That margin would be at least the width of the moulding along the bottom (1″ for the 11/2” moulding we are using now) and enough extra to get a grip with the canvas pliers (for me that’s at least 3/4“). That would make the image’s final dimensions at least 191/2” x 251/2“. When I am finished, I add layers with cut lines, fold lines, staple lines, positioning marks for the hanging hardware, etcetera, but that is a personal matter beyond the scope of this article.

## A Solution To Second Mat(h) Problem

Sadly, we had no winners to this contest. Here is a solution to that math problem:

There is more than one way to solve this problem, but we will be exploiting three different relationships. First, in preserving the aspect ratio, the length of the image (we’ll call L) is 11/2 times the width (W). $L = 1.5W$. Then, adding up the components making up the overall width of the mat, the image width (less two overlaps of 1/8“) plus two mat widths (M) would equal 16 inches. $W - \frac{1}{4}" + 2M = 16"$ By the same token, the image length (less same overlaps) plus two mat widths would be 20 inches. $L - \frac{1}{4}" + 2M = 20"$

If you replace the L in the last equation with its W equivalent from the first equation, and then add 1/4” to both sides of both equations to combine constants, you are left with the following two equations to solve with two unknown variables:

$\begin{array}{r c l} 1.5W & + 2M = & 20.25 \\ W & + 2M = & 16.25 \end{array}$

From here you can use linear algebra (matrices) or algebraic manipulation to simplify until you are left with just one variable. For example, just subtracting the bottom equation from the top (subtracting the left sides separately from the right sides of each equation), you will wind up with

$0.5W = 4$

which means the image width is eight inches, which means its length is twelve inches, and the mat guide would be set to 41/8“.

### What’s Next

I’ve come up with one more printing-inspired math problem, which I will share as soon as I master a new plug-in for this blog.  After that, I’m not sure.  Response has been weak, but the former teacher in me feels a need to keep pointing out opportunities to use some of this stuff you learned in school (or is it just to torment those students who were the most difficult – I’m not telling).  This isn’t really costing anything, and I give enough warning for the math-averse to stay clear.  Stay tuned.

## Plans For Making A Cardboard Box For Framed Art

I just added an article to the website (Making A Cardboard Box To Ship Art) that has plans and instructions for making a cardboard box. To make any size box, all you have to do is plug your dimensions into the expressions for each measurement on the plans. You can even download and print the plans (but not the instructions – hmmm).

As per my last post, you can also reach this article from “Tips & Techniques” on the main menu. Click on “Printing & Beyond”, which will take you to the “Do-It-Yourself Ideas For Finishing Your Photographs“. The sitemap will also work.

Enjoy!

P.S.  I’ve promised to publish plans and instructions for making our booth display panels in a form that people can actually use, instead of just the notes and scribbles I made for myself at the time, but those won’t be ready for the beginning of the next Florida art festival season as I had hoped.  The cost of materials for one three-foot wide panel was about \$50 a few years back.  Stay tuned.